The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives issued the following press release in preparation for the winter storm:
With a significant winter storm bearing down on Missouri, the state’s electric cooperatives are prepared for severe weather. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for nearly the entire state in effect from 6 a.m. today through noon on Wednesday, Feb. 2.
“Our member systems are preparing for the worst-case scenario, and we’re urging members to do the same,” said Barry Hart, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. “While the final path of this storm system is still uncertain, there’s no doubt that it’s coming. Damage to electrical distribution system could be scattered or widespread, so members should make plans in case power can’t be restored for several days.”
During a morning conference call with Steve Reynolds of the National Weather Service office in Springfield, Mo., cooperative officials learned that forecasters are predicting a combination of strong winds and up to 1 inch of ice that could cause significant outages in the hardest-hit regions. Coupled with up to 18 inches of snow in some areas and bitter Arctic air that will hinder restoration efforts, cooperative members are asked to prepare for outages that could stretch for multiple days until service is restored.
Snow does not greatly affect power supply. However, ice storms are among the most devastating weather events that can hit the electric power supply grid. When ice falls, it can collect on lines. The heavy weight can snap lines, cause trees to fall into lines or topple poles. Crews are also hampered by icy road conditions and downed trees that make travel difficult.
Missouri’s electric cooperatives have considerable experience dealing with winter storms. When large numbers of outages occur, the Emergency Assistance Procedure coordinated by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives in Jefferson City is enacted.
Members who rely on electricity to heat their homes should make plans for alternative shelter in the event a major outage takes place. Forecasters are calling for temperatures to fall below zero with wind chills exceeding 25 below zero on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
As outages occur, electric cooperatives call the association to request help. The association staff coordinates bringing in crews, equipment and supplies from unaffected parts of the state to lend assistance. If the disaster is widespread, cooperatives in other states and contractors also will send help.
As the storm develops and details of any outages become clear, we will update the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives website at www.amec.coop with the latest information. In addition, this site has links to all the electric cooperatives in the state at www.amec.org/coops.html. Additional information may be available there as well.